Shiloh's Carter off to strong start as Tech freshman

Photo: Karl L. Moore  Georgia Tech's Robert Carter (4) makes an outlet pass up court after grabbing a rebound during a game against Georgia earlier this year.

Photo: Karl L. Moore Georgia Tech's Robert Carter (4) makes an outlet pass up court after grabbing a rebound during a game against Georgia earlier this year.

ATLANTA -- The move from high school to college basketball has appeared to be almost seamless for Robert Carter Jr.

The Shiloh graduate has started every game for Georgia Tech, leads the Yellow Jackets in rebounding at 6.9 per game and ranks fourth in scoring with an average of 9.3 points.

Still, coach Brian Gregory feels that Carter has the potential to do even more. He has made that obvious in his comments about the 6-foot-8 freshman.

As an example, check out Gregory's remarks after Carter had a season-best 19 points as well as nine rebounds in a victory over UNC-Wilmington on Dec.8.

"Robert did a great job," the coach said. "But at the same time I know he could have done even better."

That is bad news for future opposing teams and coaches

After Carter recorded his first college double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds in a rout of Alabama State on Dec. 17, losing coach Lewis Smith was full of praise.

"Carter just so athletically crashed the boards," he said. "Shooting from the outside, nice post moves. It was just a tough cover for us both in the man and the zone."

The competition will get tougher with the start of ACC play on Jan. 5 against Miami, but Carter and the Yellow Jackets are off to a good start.

Georgia Tech, which plays Fordham at home on Saturday, is 8-2 and the victory total is just three short of what the Yellow Jackets managed all last season in Gregory's first year.

The freshman trio of Carter, Marcus Georges-Hunt and North Gwinnett's Chris Bolden are a big reason for the improvement, although Bolden has mostly struggled with his shot so far.

"From a freshman standpoint, we're going to continue to get better," Carter said. "That's a point of emphasis every day in practice."

Carter, who transferred to Shiloh from Thomasville for his senior year, is also benefiting from the work he put in to get ready for college.

Not in top shape last season, his body is much more chiseled now and the hope is that he will add even more muscle.

Carter already has an impressive skill set.

"Robert is that versatile big guy who can make jump shots all the way out to the 3-point line and score in the post," Gregory said. "He's also a wonderful passer."

Carter, who had nine points and 10 rebounds last Saturday in a rout of The Citadel, has made 18 of 27 shots in the past three games while grabbing 30 rebounds and handing out five assists. He also had five steals and two blocked shots in those games.

After hanging around outside at times in high school, Carter has shown he is very capable of mixing it up down low in college. He credits practice drills at Georgia Tech for getting him ready.

"Just one on one, try to not let your teammate get a rebound," Carter said. "Everybody is watching you. ... It's a tough drill. If you lose it, you don't have any energy to run afterwards."

Carter, who has played 24.5 minutes per game, has excelled in a two-man inside rotation with veterans Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey. Fellow freshmen Georges-Hunt and Bolden have improved the backcourt.

Georges-Hunt, from North Clayton, has started all except one game and leads the team in scoring at 11.5 points per game. Bolden has come off the bench in every game and contributed 4.8 points per outing.

Bolden, who helped lead Norcross to a state title before transferring to North Gwinnett as a senior, hit his first three college shots and scored 12 points in the opener against Tulane.

But his shot hasn't been falling with any regularity since.

Bolden has hit just 35.8 percent and made only 8 of 34 attempts from behind the 3-point arc. He was just 1-for-6 and missed all three of his treys against The Citadel last Saturday.

Gregory, though, has always considered Bolden more than just a perimeter shooter.

"Bolden is a high basketball IQ player," the coach said. "He's shown the ability to handle the ball and make pretty good decisions with the ball. Because of his physical strength, I think he can turn into a very good defender for us."

Senior point guard Mfon Udofia has been impressed with all the freshmen.

"They're willing to work. They're willing to learn," he said. "These guys can play."